BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HIBERNIAN ace Brian Graham insists he will always be grateful to Raith Rovers for securing him a crack at top-flight football – and a pair of Pele’s boots.
Graham, 29, enjoyed a prolific two-year stint in Kirkcaldy after joining the club from East Stirlingshire, bagging 38 goals for the club – ironically working under boss Grant Murray, who is now on the Easter Road coaching staff – and earning a move to Dundee United.
One of his most memorable moments for Rovers came when a run of 23 goals in 22 matches in the 2012/13 campaign saw him presented with a pair of Pele Sports boots by Scotland legend Joe Jordan.
He smiled: “I still have some of those boots in my locker!
“Looking back now, it was all a bit surreal. Some things just happen for a reason. It worked out for me, I got a good deal with Pele Sports and Joe Jordan presented me with the boots.
“It was a good day out there at One Devonshire Gardens for the presentation. I really enjoyed it.
“I remember they were a black-and-white pair that were a bit wild. However, I do remember scoring a free kick in the last minute of a game with them on so they weren’t too bad.”
Fond memories aside, there will be no room for sentiment when he returns to Stark’s Park – minus Pele’s boots – in the colours of Hibernian this afternoon.
“You can’t think like that,” he admitted. “They’re a club I’ll always hold in high regard. In my second season there I scored 27 goals under Grant Murray and I really loved it there.
“They gave me a springboard to get to the Premiership, which was where I wanted to be. That’s what got me my move to Dundee United.
“But I played against them for the first time with Ross County at the beginning of the season in the Betfred Cup – and scored a penalty that day. I got a few shouts from their end for doing that but it was all good. That’s my job.”
A win in Fife will see Neil Lennon’s men romp nine points clear of the chasing pack and, although he expects Raith to be rejuvenated under new boss John Hughes, Graham is adamant the Hibees know what is stake.
He added: “I think John Hughes will bring something different to them and I believe he’ll have them right up for this game. It surprises me to see where they are because they have a good squad. But we can’t concentrate on Raith Rovers. We know it’s a difficult place to go but we go with high hopes of getting the three points.”